• shosha, nichole canuso, niki cousineau, amy smith, colgate
  • david brick, shosha, adriano shaplin, headlong studios
  • shosha. david brick, nichole canuso, headlong studios, colgate university, adriano shaplin, philadelphia dance

Utopian Hedonists

We are hippies for real. When Andrew and David and I started Headlong in 1993 we dreamed of a world where people could make art and live together and share resources and do the work on a “from each according to their abilities” ethos and cook big pots of vegetarian stew. We made it happen and are still living that dream, in slightly modified form, to this day, despite many changes like Andrew leaving Headlong and living in our own homes now. We still make big pots of vegetarian stew.

When we were originally rehearsing Shosha back in 2005, we knew we needed another layer to the piece, and it was our brilliant dramaturg Mark Lord who suggested that we play a utopian 1970’s theater group putting on a play of Shosha. We were continuing in the tradition of theater and dance groups like the Living Theatre and Grand Union and others. We read the diaries of Judith Malina and watched videos of the Living Theatre and Peter Brook’s group. I.B. Singer had written Shosha, which is partially about utopian hedonists living under the shadow of war in Warsaw in the 1930s, when he was living in New York City in the 1970s, so it made sense that way too.

So when we are “warming up” on stage at the beginning of Shosha, we are channeling these people as well as actually warming up to being in the space together.

In this show replacing Andrew was hard; he played the charismatic theater group leader, and Ari’s friend an erstwhile guru Morris in the Shosha story. But I had faith that Adriano Shaplin, who has been in so many different theater rooms in so many different capacities, and is a wonderfully idiosyncratic mover and verbal genius, would be amazing. And he is amazing.

We had an incredible week of rehearsing in the Headlong Studios, getting the piece back and making changes and updates to it. Nichole Canuso is radiant as Shosha and her duets with David are some of the most beautiful things I have seen. Niki Cousineau is always a delight to work with and somehow helps stitch this Headlong crazy quilt together.

We had an informal showing before we left Philly so we could do it in front of some people. And now we are in snowy upstate New York (come find us if you are in the neighborhood) at Colgate University. Colgate has a gorgeous concrete theater, and Christian DuComb (Headlong’s first Managing Director) teaches here now. Everyone is living together in a big house this week, staying up late and running around in the snow after a long day of tech.

I love my life. I get to spend time with awesome people making art and sharing it with people. The snow is falling in soft, gentle flakes for real outside and on stage as Ari drags Shosha in her trunk.

Warmly,

Amy